EUAN MURRAY has no regrets about his decision to stop playing rugby on Sundays as he prepares to ride to Scotland’s rescue once again in the RBS Six Nations.
Prop Murray, who has been a born-again Christian for more than four years, caused controversy in December when it emerged he would no longer play for his country on a Sunday.
It led some to question why the 29-year-old had only now arrived at that decision, having converted to Christianity after suffering a potentially life-threatening injury playing for Glasgow back in 2005.
Murray insists he had wanted to devote his Sundays entirely to his religion as long ago as 2008 but his contract at club side Northampton meant he was unable to do so.
The prop successfully negotiated a new deal last summer, which included a clause excusing him from Sunday service, and his decision to remove himself from Test action soon followed.
“It was a difficult decision,” said Murray. “It took me about three years after I became a Christian. But I’m happy with my decision and I had a good Sunday, a good ‘Lord’s Day’.”
While Scotland’s pack was being dominated by France in Sunday’s Six Nations opener, Murray’s was spent attending mass in the morning and evening and catching up with friends and family.
Indeed, he did not watch his country’s 18-9 defeat until Monday.
Murray has been recalled by head coach Andy Robinson and Saturday will be Murray’s first Test since breaking a fibula and suffering ankle ligament damage on the Lions’ tour of New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Wales forward Jonathan Thomas has admitted behaving like a “nerd” this week in an effort to rebuild a Welsh lineout effortlessly dismantled by England skipper Steve Borthwick and company at Twickenham last weekend.
Wales’ weakness in that critical set-piece area proved a major factor behind their 30-17 defeat.
Coach Warren Gatland has refused to press any panic buttons though, making just one change up front as Thomas replaces giant Newport Gwent Dragons lock Luke Charteris for Scotland’s Millennium Stadium visit on Saturday.
“You have to become a nerd when it comes to lineouts,” said Thomas. “If you don’t, you are going to come unstuck.
“It isn’t the most exciting thing, studying opposition lineouts, but you have to do it if you are involved in the second row.”
Elsewhere, England’s Delon Armitage has admitted he feared he would be dropped for Sunday’s Valentine’s Day clash with Italy in Rome after his least impressive game for his country.
“I was very disappointed about the Welsh game. We still won but on a personal level it was the worst game I have played for England,” said Armitage.
“I felt I let the boys down. I wasn’t in a very good mood on Saturday night and I sulked a little bit. I am glad I have another opportunity.”
England boss Martin Johnson will confirm the make-up of his bench this afternoon, having delayed the announcement due to concerns over injury and illness concerning Borthwick, Simon Shaw and Lewis Moody.
For their part, Italy had some good moments but ultimately lost 29-11 to Ireland and centre Gonzalo Garcia insists he and his team-mates will not back down.
“We have been working hard this week to be ready for the game against England,” said Garcia. “We know we will face a very strong side. It will be a hard battle but we will go out to win.”
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